Galen Brownsmith (marphod) wrote in dnd3e,
Galen Brownsmith

My House Rules

I'm thinking of running my first DnD game in a long time, so I put together my house
rules. I would love some feedback on them.

Many of these are based on one of my current DM's house rules, E____, who is not on LJ.

Some of these rules borrow elements from Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved/Unearthed (although, not very many). Noted as such.

Fair Warning: I believe in RPing Elite characters. I like the standard DnD game, but I never play characters that make it to 20th level, much less Epic. These House Rules are to allow players to explore more of the system. I acknowledge these rules make a more-powerful-than-average character, and probably wouldn't work at epic levels.

I have design notes/reasoning with most of the house rules.

To keep comments all in one location, I've disabled comments here and have a linked after everything to my original post in my personal journal. Please comment there.

Marphod's DnD 3.5 House Rules:

Character Creation:
1) Either 42 (ish) Point-buy (WotC scale) or 75 (ish) points (1-per-stat).

(Characters should be relatively balanced, stat wise, so standard dice rolling is out. Characters should be elite, so the standard (and 'elite') point buys are insufficient. Even E's Obscene Dice Rolling system (roll 5d6 2x6 times, to create 6 pairs of scores, taking the best of each pair, arrange to choice, re-roll any '1's) creates a lot of deviation between characters.)
This makes a new 'Uber-Elite Array' of 18, 16, 15, 14, 10, 8 (42 WotC points, 71 1-per-stat points). Elite NPCs (such as BBEG) should be getting this array.

2) Double feat progression for levels/HD (Standard for bonus feats).
E.g. Starting characters get 2 at first level (plus any racial or class feats). Then 2 more at each level divisable by 3. Additionally, you can delay taking 1 feat ONCE per character for one level.
This applies to NPCs as well. Minions can just get simple-to-run feats (Sudden Metamagic, Improved Init, Toughness (see Feats #6, below), Dodge, Combat Casting, etc.).

(Feats are too cool to restrict PCs to only 5 in the average campaign. Most campaigns don't go past 15th level, as the system breaks down and the DM load goes up massively at that point. PCs should be allowed to explore the feat trees and feat synergies more. The delay lets a PC wait a level to get a cool feat that they don't qualify for immeditately. Any bonus feats, due to being Human or from a class level (Fighter, Wizard) is still just a single bonus feat.)

3) No XP penalty for cross classing. Monks and Paladins (and the like) can cross-class freely.
(I've never seen the point of doing world-based restrictions as game limitations. If multiclassing is discouraged, have a world of caste-hyper-focus and social restrictions of styles. But cross classing generally is weak, and in the few cases where it isn't, the DM should step in.)

4) Fractional BAB/Saves are used.
Fighter BAB is +1/level, Cleric is +.75/level, Wizard is +.5/level. Total based on level and round down.
Good saves are 1+ .5/level, base saves are +.33/level. Total and round down.
(This is adventageous to any multi-class characters and doesn't change any single-class)

5) Fix Charisma
I don't know how, but unless you're a spontenous caster (or a Cleric built on divine feats), having a bad CHA doesn't hurt you. (Yeah, yeah. High social games. But if you're playing a high social game, WHY ARE YOU PLAYING DnD?!?!?!?! Exalted, Changeling, Earthdawn, GURPS High Fantasy, HERO Fantasy, etc. are all better suited to high social high fantasy games. And how many PCs accurately play their charisma in a high social DnD game anyway?)

6) HP Calculation
Roll twice, take the best. (If both rolls are below 25% of max, you can re-roll once more, but you must take the resulting roll, even if it is worse).
For d12 HD, use d8+4. For d10 HD, use d8+2. (These mean you never get to do a last-ditch reroll for d10s and d12s).
A Player may opt, rather than rolling, to take average+.5 (3 for d4, 4 for d6, 5 for d8, 7 for d10, 9 for d12).

7) Feat Swap
From Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed/Evolved: At 10th (and 20th, if my games every get there ... ) a PC may swap any one feat which they have for any other feat for which they qualify. If the feat swapped out is used for a Prerequisite for any other feat, it can ONLY be swapped for another feat which fulfills the prerequisite. (For instance, if a PC has Dodge/Mobility/Spring Attack/Combat Expertise/Whirlwind Attack, they could swap Whirlwind Attack for any other feat they like. Instead, if they keep Whirlwind Attack They could only swap one of the other listed feats for something that would also fulfill the prerequisite tree for Whirlwind Attack, such as swapping Dodge for Midnight Dodge (MoI) or Defensive Move (see Feats #2, below)).
The feat swapped out can only be a feat the Player selected; it cannot be a named bonus feat (e.g. Track for Rangers cannot be swapped). If the feat swapped out was a first-level-only, the Player can select a different first-level-only feat, if they like. If the feat swapped out was selected from a specific list (Fighter Bonus Feats, Wizard Bonus Feats, etc.) the new feat can only be off of that list with DM approval.
(Approval usually hinges on one of the PCs self-selected feats also being from the list).

8) Action Points
Action points, as per Eberron, are in use. (This like the SRD version, except no Boost Defense, Extra Attack, Spell Recall, or Improving Feats.)

Per Class Changes:

1) Most of the Alternate Class Features (from PHB2 and on) are allowed and encouraged.
(Case by case, but some just make too much sense. Like Dark Companions for Hexblades rather than Familiars, the familiar alternatives for Sorc/Wizards, specialization options for Fighters, How often is a Paladin's mount an actual benefit rather than a liablity, etc).

2) Bard spell progression sucks. Change it.
I'm not sure HOW to change it; it just does. Even with Bardic Music, bards end up being slightly weak. I'm tempted to increase known spells by 50% and double spells-per-day, but I've not tested that. Also, bard should get all skills as class skills.

3) Fighters get a bonus feat at every level not divisable by 3. (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, etc.).
(Fighters get the shaft, between all the new full-BAB classes in expansions. The Knight, Warblade, Champion, Hexblade, etc. they need something to encourgae PCs to play fighters longer).

4) Wizards, Sorcerers, and Clerics need some form of class abilities at higher levels.
A pure caster class build is so weak, since most PrCs kick their ass. There are way too many full-progrssion casting PrCs, so the primary caster classes lose almost nothing from multi-classing (Cleric Turning is WEAK (but changed/improved in Combat #3, below). Familiar progression rarely makes a big difference. The Wizard bonus feats can be made up based on the PrC taken). No idea, yet.

5) Non-Cleric Cure spell Progression
All classes that get Cure spells get them at the same progression as a Cleric. (This allows Druids and Spirit Shaman to play the role of primary healer, without crippling a parties ability to have multiple encounters per day. I've no idea why Paladins and Rangers didn't have this already.)

6) Paladin lay-on-hands ability
Change to match the Dragon Shaman's Touch of Vitality (2 x Cha Bonus x Level). Paladin's get the Remove Conditions sub-ability at 7th level.

(I'm NOT taking some of E's house rules, here. BABs do not change for Warmage, Dragon Shaman, etc. Nor do hit-dice.)


1) The Mage-slayer feats do not exist. Don't ask.

2) Dodge is a flat +1 to AC v targets the character has noticed. It works in the suprise round/before the character's first action. It does not work against invisible opponents or opponents attacking from a hidden spot. This applies to dodge-like feats (Midnight Dodge, from MoI). Alternatively, Defensive Move from Arcana Unearthed/Evolved is available and can be used in place of Dodge (and fulfills any Dodge prerequisite for other Feats or PrCs).

3) Practiced Spellcaster has an added benefit for the half-level casters. They get the +4 or, alternatively, they can stop halving their level to determine caster level, whichever is more adventageous.
(lets face it, Rangers, Paladins and Hexblades do not cause anyone to quiver in fear of their spellcasting. So, a 9 Paladin/1 Figher would cast as a 9th level caster (9 levels in casting class). A 4 Hexblade/4 Rogue casts as a 6th level caster (1/2 levels of Hexblade, +4). The max caster level of character level still applies.)

4) Off-level casting/invoking/manifesting:
A character can take this at most character level/5 times (min 1). For purpose of determining spells/powers per day and spells/invocations/powers known the character is treated as 1 level higher (Max character Level). (That is, level/5 times TOTAL. So, a 3 Wizard/3 Cleric/10 Mystic Theurge could take this 3 times, and have a Caster Level of 13/16, 14/15, 15/14 or 16/13. They could not take this 3 times *per casting class*.)

5) Off-level BAB:
A character can take this at most character level/5 times (min 1). Adds a flat +1 to a character's calculated BAB (Max Character Level).
(I'm not really sold on this one, but given off-level- this follows.)

6) Toughness:
Toughness no longer adds a straigh +3 HP; it adds +1 HP/level (which increases as character level increases). Toughness-like feats are changed to mirror this (e.g. MoI's Azure's Toughness is +1 HP/level per Essentia). There's no longer Dwarf's/Dragon's/Giant's toughness, you can just take this feat multiple times and its benefits stack. For a PrC or feat tree that used to require Improved Toughness, the prerequisite is changed to taking Toughness twice.

7) Combat Archery is available as a General (and Fighter-bonus) Feat, as written in the Epic rules, with an addition Prerequisite of Dex 17 and BAB of +10. (PrCs that grant similar abilities should grant this instead (e.g. Deepwoods sniper).)

8) Combat Casting
I'm not sure how this plays. I'm tempted by the idea that you cannot do the Cast Defensively action to avoid an AoO UNLESS you have taken the Combat Casting feat. This means (1) there's a significant value add to taking Combat Casting over Skill Focus(Concentration) and reduces the number of 'Cast Badass spell while threatened' spellcasters. (not that that's a PROBLEM, per se, but there's a reason that casting a spell should provoke.)

(I'm not taking E's +dex to damage feats; dex based combat is strong enough as is. )


1) Tumbling DCs
15 + 2 per threatening combatant + 1/2 the highest TAB of the combatants (round down) for tumbling around the battlefield.
25 + 2 per threatening combatant + 1/2 the occupants TAB for through an occupied square.
At low level, this is no (or nearly no) change from standard. At higher level, it means the DC isn't a gimme.

2) Drinking a potion:
Move equivelent action, not a standard. You're saying it takes a character as long to do a shot as it does to move 30 feet, cast a spell, etc. I'm tempted to try to do something like 'free as part of a move' like Drawing a weapon, but I don't have a solid mechanic.

3) Turning Undead
Turning Undead does 1d6 points of damage, per Cleric level, to all undead in the area of affect. The area of effect is (cleric's choice) either to a burst, centered on the cleric which's radius is 5'+5' for every 2 cleric levels (min 10') or a cone 10'+10' per cleric level (min 20). A Greater Turning's effect is maximized. This affect does not penatrate Desecrated Ground, and does 1/2 damage to undead protected by Protection from Good or Magic Circle v Good. The undead gets a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 Cleric Level + Cha modifier) against this; successful save is half damage (1/4 damage if protected above). Turn resistance applies to this save.
Rebuking Undead does non-lethal damage (which ignores the normal undead-not-affected-by-nonlethal damage). Rebuked undead whose damage exceeds their non-lethal damage come under the command of the cleric who turned them. Command remains until ALL the non-lethal damage is healed. If the cleric's orders run countrary to the undeads nature (or desire, if intellegent) it can make a will save against the cleric (DC 10 + Cleric's CHA modifier + 1/2 cleric level) to ignore the order. If it succeeds, it does nothing. If it succeeds by 10, it can take whatever action it wishes, other than attack the master. If it succeeds by 5, it can take a different action, but it muyst be one the undead reasonable belives will please its master. (Undead protected by Consecrated ground are immune to rebuking, and protected by Magic Circle V Evil or Protection from Evil take half damage from rebuking.)
If anyone gets the ability to command or turn other creatures (Elementals from Domains), this will be altered in the obvious manner.

( n: I'm sticking with the general concensus that the ranged attack roll inherent in spells does not provoke an AoO. Simialrly, ranged effects with no attack rolls do not provoke. This is counter to R's house rule.)

Magic Items:

1) Repairing
Repairing sundered (or otherwise broken, but not disjoined) magical items requires any relevant skill checks and feats, money and time, but does not require any additional XP.

2) Double Weapon Discount
The second head of a magic weapon costs 25% of the first head for the identical enchantments and 50% for different. They do not need to be in lock step.
(so, a +2 frost/+1 frost quarter staff costs 18kgp for the first head and 2kgp for the second head (25% of 8k), plus masterwork& base weapon costs. A +1 holy/+1 frost, giant bane would cost 18kgp for the first and 500gp (25% of the +1) + 8kgp (50% of the difference of a +3 and +1 weapon, for the frost and giant bane)

3) The Mage Bane Enhancement does not exist.
+1 enhancement that does 2d6 extra damage to all Gnomes, Wizards, Sorcerers, Bards, plus any other arcane spellcasting class or class with SLA or any other race with SLAs. No. Gnome Bane is +1. Any other racial banes are +1. This would STILL be broken at +2.


1) Polymorph school works are originally written, with the following changes:
a) You can only polymorph into something you've polymorphed into thrice before, or are very familiar with (significant IC study), or succeed in a Knowledge 15+CR check.
b) The limit ithat was expressed as HD is now expressed in terms of the creatures Level Adjustment+HD (so a Troll is a viable Polymorph target for an 11th level caster, but not a 7th. A War Troll is a valid Shapechange target, at 18 (12HD + 6LA), but not Polymorph). If the creature doesn't have a ECL, treat the level adjustment as 1/3 the creatures HD, rounded down.
c) Polymorph (the spell, not school) allows a subject to become any of the listed types or the EXACT SAME type as the subject, including any and all sub-types (but not size). (E.G. Living Constructs can polymorph into OTHER living constructs, but not ANY construct. a Fire Elemental can become other Elemental (Fire, Extraplanar) creatures, not any Elemental, etc. Exception - Elementals of multiple types (e.g. Thoqqua, which is Fire and Earth), can be polymorphed into an Elemental of one of their types; they cannot be polymophed into a multi-type elemental if the types do not exactly match.).
(No more Warforged Cleric getting polymorhed into Inevetables. Not that I've seen that happen. OrDoneItMyself. Goodbye+24Str/+2Dex/+16NatArm/+3d6ElementalDamageOnMeleeStrikes. For added joy, combine the brokeness with Righteous Might.)

2) Lesser Restoration's casting time is a Standard Action. Restoration and Greater Restoration remain 3 rounds.
Ability damage is harsh enough; it should be addressable in combat, just as HP damage.

3) Bear's Endurance, Owl's Wisdom, Bull's Strength, etc duration is 10 minutes/level.
The only compelling reason for these to not be hour/level is that they make +2 and +4 items less useful. Still, Minute/level means that they don't last long enough to be non-combat buffs, but last longer than a single combat. 10 minuts/level seems a happy medium.

4) Rule of 12 & Durations
I'm considering using this, if tracking durations gets to be a problem. This is a simplification that I've borrowed from anu3bis's campaigns:
Any effect that lasts 12 rounds last for an entire encounter
Any effect that lasts 12 minutes lasts for an entire scene
Any effect that lasts 2 hours (120 minutes) lasts for activity period
Any effect that lasts 12 hours lasts for the entire day
Any effect that last for 12 days lasts indefinately.

An encounter is a single interaction -- a combat, a social interaction, etc. A scene is a sequence of connected encounters (exploring a level of a dungeon, a number of social interactions with different notables at the grand ball, etc.). An activity period is, roughly 'dawn to lunch', 'lunch to dusk', 'sleeping period and watches', or an equivelent.

(The reason this is rule-of-tweleve, rather than 10, is it avoids making Bless always an entire-encounter spell. 12, rather than 20, as I'm trying to make my life simplier, and getting 12 is a lot more common, esp. with Rods of Extend Spell.)

5) Counterspelling
The counterspelling mechanic is awful. Change it. (Monte Cook's rules? A Feat to allow counterspelling as an immediate action n times a day?)

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